Project seeks to engage youth in agriculture

LOS BAÑOS, Laguna: An intergovernmental treaty organization hosted by the Philippines and a company that provides an end-to-end maritime solution with tailored services have forged a partnership to implement the School Edible Landscaping for Entrepreneurship (SEL4E) Project in Rizal province.

The Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (SEARCA) has partnered with the Manila-based Synergy Group Operations Inc. (SGOI) for the project as part of its corporate social responsibility or CSR program.

Aside from contributing financial resources to the project, SGOI will also engage its employees in community activities, according to SEARCA.

SEARCA said the SEL4E Project takes off from the success of the School-plus-Home Gardens Project (S+HGP) which the center implemented in six elementary and high schools in Laguna.

Harvests from the school gardens provided fresh vegetables for the school-based feeding program and enhanced the food and nutrition security of the schoolchildren.

It said there are now two additional adopted schools, 23 sister schools, and three brother schools from the six original pilot schools.

Formalized in a signing ceremony held on July 1, 2022 at SEARCA in this town, the agreement between SEARCA and SGOI for the SEL4E Project will be in force until December 2024.

During the signing ceremony, SGOI Director Krish Mundath commended SEARCA for its work in agricultural and rural development and its efforts to engage the youth in agriculture.

Mundath said SEARCA's vision of making farming and agriculture look glamorous to the young is a fantastic idea.

"They need to be pulled into this and attracted towards this very basic need because food will certainly go short in time," he said.

Dr. Glenn Gregorio, SEARCA director, affirmed his appreciation of SGOI as a partner in the scaling up of SEARCA's S+HGP.

"[This is so] because SEARCA promotes the proactive engagement of industries and government agencies in academe-industry-government (AIG) interconnectivity models of research collaboration and co-sharing of financial resources," Gregorio said.

He said the SEL4E Project is expected to produce a cadre of trained and committed teachers and school heads in the participating schools as well as technical staff from municipal and barangay levels who will be able to sustain and scale up the project components.